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Planned Ashland Starbucks opening spurs complaints

Starbucks Coffee is coming back to south Ashland, and some people aren’t happy about it.

Ashland’s former Umpqua Bank building at Walker and Ashland streets, closed for over a year, is expected to reopen as a 4,124-square-foot Starbucks, directly across the street from ReMix Coffee Bar, following approval by the city Planning Commission.

The spacious new chain cafe will trigger a bit of a java traffic jam, with Awake Tea & Espresso a quarter-mile east, Dutch Bros. across the way in the Ashland Shopping Center and Case Coffee Roasters around the corner on Siskiyou Boulevard.

Starbucks closed its Siskiyou Boulevard location, now occupied by Chabad Synagogue, almost five years ago, leaving its tiny cafe in Albertsons as the only Starbucks outlet in south Ashland. The new spot should get much use from the adjacent Southern Oregon University athletic complex and dorms.

Several members of the social media network NextDoor complained online this week that the new shop, one of over 30,000 Starbucks outlets in the world, would compete with locally owned ReMix, started July 2018 by Jamie North, owner of Mix on the Plaza. Some promised not to patronize the massive chain.

“I can’t be the only one concerned it will out-compete ReMix,” Melissa Lowry wrote. “I’m very surprised the community is not more peeved at a large corporate chain threatening a local business.”

Wendy Eppinger wrote, “I will personally boycott Starbucks because I want to support new local coffee shops, ReMix and Awake.”

Ashland Senior Planner Derek Severson said, “The city has nothing to say when tenants change in an existing building. We’re only concerned about clear and objective standards, not who owns the building. We’re concerned about changes to the site.

“It will have an entry on Ashland Street and some outdoor seating, so it’s more compliant to city codes.”

The driveways, parking, landscape and interior circulation will be improved a bit, but basically the building will be the same.

Severson said the comment period was open to those with property within 200 feet or who commented during the hearing, but it is over, and no one commented. The shop is free to open when the owners finish their improvements, Severson said.

The building, which sits on just over a half-acre in a C-1 commercial zone, was built in 1977 and stood across from the Beanery Coffee House, one of the first in Ashland. Starbucks will have a drive-up window. Remodeling will result in cutting of six trees with trunks wider that 6 inches, including a 16-inch-wide sweetgum.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

The former site of the Umpqua Bank along Ashland Street in Ashland is scheduled to open as a 4,124-square-foot Starbuck’s Coffee operation.{ }Photo by John Darling